Research on Mindfulness and Learning
This page summarizes research on the benefits of mindfulness, including neuroscience, the latest scientific studies, and specific benefits for students and educators.
Mindfulness Training leads to structural changes in the brain that develop and enhance the qualities including kindness, patience and compassion; in addition to increasing executive function and improving impulse control.
Research has found that mindfulness practices can be an effective method of treating anxiety, stress, and depression.
How Meditation Changes The Brain
Aroused when detecting and reacting to emotions, especially difficult or strong emotions such as fear. This part of the brain is less activated1 and has less gray matter density2 following mindfulness training.
The part of the brain most associated with maturity, including regulating emotions and behaviors and making wise decisions. This part of the brain is more activated following mindfulness training.5
Mindfulness is associated with emotion regulation across a number of studies6. Mindfulness creates changes in the brain that correspond to less reactivity7, and better ability to engage in tasks even when emotions are activated.8
Desbordes, G., Negi, L. T., Pace, T. W., Wallace, B. A., Raison, C. L., & Schwartz, E. L. (2012). Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on Amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6.
2.) Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Evans, K. C., Hoge, E. A., Dusek, J. A., Morgan, L., … Lazar, S. W. (2010). Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5(1), 11–17.
4.) Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191(1), 36–43.
Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A Pilot Study and Randomized Controlled Trial of the Mindful Self-Compassion Program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28–44.
Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2), 105.
11.) Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: a review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593–600.
Pbert, L., Madison, J. M., Druker, S., Olendzki, N., Magner, R., Reed, G., … Carmody, J. (2012). Effect of mindfulness training on asthma quality of life and lung function: a randomised controlled trial. Thorax, 67(9), 769–776.
12.) Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Marques, L., Metcalf, C. A., Morris, L. K., Robinaugh, D. J., … Simon, N. M. (2013). Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 74(8), 786–792.